Commercial Record

Revised Wicks plan wins PC OK


The Saugatuck Planning Commission Monday voted 4-1 to approve a twice-tabled special land use and site plan application by Wicks Park Bar and Grille, 449 Water St., to extend operations into a former home behind it at 121 Mary St.

Conditions include total building and patio occupancy of 25, hours a maximum 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., plus noise restrictions including no amplified music, outdoor speakers nor percussion instruments. A proposed fence also must be lowered from 10 to 8 feet.

Wicks Park owner Christine Murphy’s proposed The Cottage at Wicks Park from city engineers for drainage, building inspectors, the Allegan County Health Department and Saugatuck Township Fire District before starting operations.

Murphy wants to expand restaurant and alcohol service into the former residence, which like the restaurant on her same parcel lies in the city’s Water Street East C-2 Commercial zoning district.

The commission Feb. 17 and again last Thursday declined to act on zoning administrator Cindy Osman’s counsel that proposals there, which have most recently migrated to include a 10-foot fence enclosing the back yard, could by law be approved.

“It (The Cottage) will me more quiet and intimate than Wicks,” Pierce told planners Feb. 17. “Right now the house and alley are disgusting. Our goal is to clean them up, generate more revenue from our property and improve downtown in the process.”

Some neighbors questioned that. “This,” said Catherine Simon, whose Maplewood Hotel abuts Pierce’s parcel on the east side, “would have a very negative impact on my business, the Ivy Inn, Marywood Manor (now Summer Fun Cottages), Wickwood, the Inn of Saugatuck and even Judson Heath” (all nearby lodging businesses).

“How does adding one business balance against damaging multiple others?” Simon asked.

“Christine has made a lot of promises,” Inn of Saugatuck owner Jane Verplank said. “She has a very, very poor track record on noise. She moves bands inside but leaves windows open, and they play not until 11 p.m. but 12:30 a.m. “Didn’t she see those four B&B’s that surround her?” Verplank continued. “We sell sleep. How does her plan fit with that?”

The fence and other design tweaks made since that night, including eliminating a planned breezeway between the main and auxiliary buildings, were made at behest of the city’s Historic District Commission March 3.

“We’ve seen like six different assemblages of information on this proposal, said commission chair Dan Fox March 17, declining to open a public hearing originally scheduled for that night.

“I have questions about the propriety of submitting changed plans right before our meetings.”

“I’m not satisfied,” commission member and council liaison Russ Gardner added that night, “this site plan meets our requirements.

“Once we receive one that is complete, we can get on addressing neighbors’ concerns about occupancy, noise and so on,” Gardner said.

Planners rescheduled last Thursday’s session for Monday, contemplating once more revised plans.

That one, with conditions as noted, passed, with planners Fox, Gardner, Bobbie Gaunt and Ann Broeker in favor. Rich Crawford was opposed.

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